ABOUT Antigua. The island has warm, steady winds, a complex coastline of safe harbors, and a protective, nearly unbroken wall of coral reef. It would make a perfect place to hide a fleet. And so in 1784 the legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson sailed to Antigua and established Great Britain's most important Caribbean base. Little did he know that over 200 years later the same unique characteristics that attracted the Royal Navy would transform Antigua and Barbuda in one of the Caribbean's premier tourist destinations. The signs are still there, they just point to different things. The Trade Winds that once blew British men-of-war safely into English Harbour now fuel one of the world's foremost maritime events, Sailing Week. The expansive, winding coastline that made Antigua difficult for outsiders to navigate is where today's trekkers encounter a tremendous wealth of secluded, powdery soft beaches. The coral reefs, once the bane of marauding enemy ships, now attract snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world. And the fascinating little island of Barbuda -- once a scavenger's paradise because so many ships wrecked on its reefs -- is now home to one of the region's most significant bird sanctuaries. There are many activities to engage in while on your Caribbean holiday in Antigua and Barbuda. Adventurers can zip through the rainforest on a canopy tour, engage in other activities and attractions in Antigua that are great for the family, scenic historical tours that take the avid explorer through paths less trod, or hop on a helicopter and journey over waters to discover nearby gems. Prefer not to venture too far from the beach, in Antigua, water-sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, snorkelling and scuba-diving, are plentiful. Engaging in water-based activities in Antigua is a great way to bring some excitement to your beach holiday. A day trip to Barbuda for a day of bird-watching, picnic-ing on Barbuda's 17 mile stretch of pink sandy beach, hiking or siteseeing will also prove to be lots of fun for visitiors. Around 97,000 tourists visit Antigua and Barbuda each year (source: Ministry of Tourism, Antigua) and the vast majority of visits are trouble-free. There have been incidents of violent crime including murder. These tend to occur within the local community but can sometimes affect tourists.
CLIMATE Antigua averages in the mid twenties year round, with the annual average minimum to maximum temperature range sitting at 21 ºC to 30 ºC and the temperature rarely falling below 20 ºC. May to November is classed as the ‘hot’ season and sees slightly higher averages but only by a few degrees and a decline in average precipitations. The months from June to November is classed as the hurricane season so one must be wary of them if thinking of visiting during this time. The weather is the most enjoyable from November to February, when humidity is at its lowest and there is little rainfall.
BEWARE There has been an overall increase in crime in Antigua over recent years, including gun crime and murder which has affected British nationals. You should therefore maintain at least the same level of security awareness as you would in the UK and ensure that your living accommodation is secure. Apply the same measures if you are staying on a yacht. You should take precautions and be vigilant at all times. Avoid isolated areas, including beaches after dark. Do not carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. Valuables and travel documents should be left, where possible, in safety deposit boxes and hotel safes. In order to be able to drive a car in Antigua and Barbuda you must purchase a local driving licence, usually from the car hire company, at a cost of US$ 20 (EC$50). You must show your current driving licence to obtain this. You should drive with care and attention at all times. The national speed limit is 40mph and there is a limit of 20 mph in built up areas. Motorists drive on the left in Antigua and Barbuda. Main roads are generally well maintained, although they lack road markings. Pot holes, even on main roads, and poorly marked speed bumps can catch the unwary. Overtaking on blind corners and cutting corners when turning right are commonplace. Stray cattle, goats and dogs are an additional hazard. Pavements are few and very narrow so pedestrians walk on the road. Few streets are lit at night.